Today, the 13th April, is the Birthday of the new capital of Odisha – Bhubaneswar. The foundation of the new city was laid on the 13th April, 1948 by the first Prime Minister of India – Jawaharlal Nehru.
The foundation-stone, located in front of the Odisha Legislative Assembly building, has the following legend:
It is my pride and pleasure and privilege today, the 13th April, 1948, to declare that the foundation-stone of the capital-city of Bhubaneswar has been well and truly laid. I dedicate this city to the wellbeing of the people of Orissa. Jai Hind. – Jawaharlal Nehru
Since ancient times, Cuttack was the capital of Odisha. The selection of the site for the new capital of Odisha (earlier Orissa) was a long-drawn process. In 1933, an administrative committee of the British Government had recommended building of the capital in Chauliaganj area of Cuttack. However, it was felt that since Cuttack has two flood-prone rivers, viz. Mahanadi and Kathajori, on both its sides, Cuttack was ruled out. After the separate language-based Province of Orissa was carved out on the 1st April, 1936, a Jones Committee was set up for finding a site for the capital of Orissa. This Committee considered Rangeilunda, located between Bramhapur and Gopalpur but another Committee ruled it out. Then one Dan Committee was set up for the purpose but this was abandoned. Subsequently, Chowdwar, Anugul and Khorha were considered but were found not suitable. Around Independence of India in 1947, the large and open wasteland between the old temple-town of Bhubaneswar (where the Lingaraj Temple and a host of other ancient temples are located) and Mancheshwar was finally selected. The then Prime Minister of Orissa (before Independence, chiefs of the Provinces were called ‘Prime Ministers’) preferred this site and it was approved by the Provincial Assembly. The environment, climate, natural beauty, historical heritage, and the scope for constructing roads and buildings in this area weighed in its favour.
The blueprint for the new capital was prepared by the German city-planner Otto Koenigsberger. It was planned in an area of 12 square miles for 40,000 people and 1500 buildings including Raj Bhawan, Assembly Secretariat, building for Heads of Departments, quarters of Ministers, MLAs and officials, offices of the Accountant General, the Post Master General, hospital, shops and markets etc.
The present population is touching 12 lakh.
The city started with a Special Planning Authority, which gave way to Bhubaneswar Regional Improvement Trust which in turn gave way to the present Bhubaneswar Development Authority.
To look after the area’s civic needs, a Notified Area Committee was established in 1948 when the population was 15,000. In 1952, it was upgraded to a Notified Area Council. This gave way to Bhubaneswar Municipality in 1979. As population increased, it was, in 2004, upgraded to Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation and its Chairman was designated as Mayor.
When last year, Government of India launched the concept of Smart Cities, Bhubaneswar became one of them.
Bhubaneswar is considered a City of Temples. With the famous temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri and the ‘Black Pagoda’ Sun Temple at Konark, both about 60 Kms from Bhubaneswar, the trio is called ‘The Golden Triangle’.